Bonner Does Donner 2009
CalRocs heads to Donner Ski Ranch
Story by Kurt Schnieder
Photos by Shana Whitford


Bonus lines. This last CalROCS event at Donner Ski ranch was about "pucker factor" bonus lines.  Once again, Glenn Bonner and the CalROCS crew out did all expectations and delivered a rock crawling competition that amazed fans and frustrated competitors.

A few years back I took my wife to a WE Rock event at the same venue, Donner Ski Ranch. We sat up on a ridge over a bowl of granite with a course that was laid out below us. There was a 3 story vertical expanse of granite with two cones at the very top. I remember my wife asking me, "Why are those two cones at the top?" I explained, "That's the bonus line, they go up that." Keep in mind here, my wife had been on the Rubicon trail before with me, she had also gone on many trail rides elsewhere with me for years. She knew what rock-crawling was all about. Even so, she turned toward me and said one word: "bullshit".  When the first rig ran up that bonus line, and I heard her screaming in my ear in utter amazement, I knew she was sold on rock crawling events.

When Kurtis Harriman told me at the CalROCS Reno event that they were going to use the same area that WE Rock used for this year's CalROCS event, I was praying he would lay out that same course.  My prayers were answered.

This time around, I invited some of my neighbors on my street to come to the event.  Since all of them knew virtually nothing about the sport, I thought it would be really exciting to see their reaction to a CalROCS event. As soon as we got out of the bus that Glenn Bonner had to ferry people to the courses, with three families and kids in tow, I made a bee-line to that same granite bowl with that insane bonus line.  For me, it was a moment of deja-vu. My wife told the neighbors, "The two cones on top are the bonus line, they go straight up that wall!"  In unison, the neighbors said "Bullshit" Even their kids! The KIDS said "bullshit", and they are all under six years old! I did not watch the first rig go up the bonus line instead, I watched my neighbor's faces. Ever see a Loony Toons cartoon where their jaws drop to the ground and their eyes bug out of their heads?  It was just like that. I could do nothing but smile. I knew they were sold.

I will have to admit I was a little worried about this CalROCS event. Could Bonner and Kurtis really out-do the Reno event? With Reno Rocks the weekend before in essentially the same area, would it hurt the attendance?  My fears were unfounded. The action at Donner was beyond spectacular.  What's more, there was a massive amount of spectators at this event. There were so many people, that CalROCS ran out of entry wrist bands to pass out!  The crowds of people stacked up on ledges above the courses reminded me of backdoor at the LCQ at the King of the Hammers. People were posted around the courses like vultures waiting for carnage.  With the ridiculous bonus lines that Kurtis set up, those vultures were fed. Jeremy Hengl started the weekend of destruction with a vicious roll that had people screaming and running for cover. After Jeremy broke the seal, it was on. I have a feeling CalROCS drivers are not liking Kurtis, but the fans are.

35 and Under

Once again, Dan Paterson brought home the win, and racked up yet another win over Jeff Mello. In the 35 and under class, the scores were HIGH. Very few of the rigs were bringing in good scores because of the sick courses, but that did not mean it wasn't exciting to watch. Justin Hall and Dennis Stansfield came in second and third respectively.

36"to 40" Full Body

If you remember Pirate's coverage from the last CalROCS event, I said that last year's undefeated champion "Welder Boy" Bill Roulette would be bringing the heat. Well he did. Mike Bou, who had won at the CalROCS Reno event, had a horrible Saturday pulling in 131 for the day compared to Welder Boy's 69. Bou stepped up his game on Sunday, actually doing much better than Roulette, but it was not enough for him to bring home the win.  I think we got a little bit of a rivalry going on here! These two guys will be the ones to watch at the next CalROCS event.

36" to 40" Buggy

God this is a competitive class. Jesse Haines and John Hall both ended the event with -80's.  Jason Willis was the only other driver able to bring their score into the negatives with a -21. Brian Whitford and Jeremy Winters battled it out finishing only one point part. 

On a side note, Mark Harris did not thrash Jeff Mello's rig at this event. However, I managed to thrash one of their support vehicles, by bending in Nailhead's fender, so the tradition of bashing borrowed rigs is still intact.

Over 40" Sportsman

Pirate Dustin Emick has been playing catch up to Derek Trent in this class. Not so at this event. Emick pulled off the win with Kevin Yoder just eight points behind him. The action and carnage in this class was unreal with Jeremy Hengl's bad roll early on Saturday, and then Mikey Foster attempting a back-flip in his rig while climbing the evil B3 course.


On Saturday, A4 was the backbreaker for veteran Brent Bradshaw. Bradshaw and Cody Waggoner were trading shots back and fourth on all the courses pulling in very close scores, but on A4 Bradshaw pulled a 0 and Waggoner racked up a -13. It just goes to show that you need to bring your "A" game to every course, and sometimes even a zero is not enough.

Once again, Bonner will do Donner and finish the season at Donner Ski Ranch on the first and second of August.  Quite possibly one of the greatest venues of the sport, I think everyone is looking forward to the next event. Let's pray that Kurtis is still a sadist when he designs the courses for this next event.